Situated not far from Northampton among lovely countryside surrounds and easily reached from the M1, Whittlebury Park with its 36 holes of golf and 254 hotel bedrooms has an awful lot to offer.
It’s also a very peaceful place, although sometimes the calm is shattered in a way that most golfers and visitors probably won’t mind too much.
Whittlebury Park’s claim to fame is that it also sits right next door to Silverstone racetrack, just one noisy and exhilarating circuit as a neighbour, the golf centre has a quartet of much shorter and more sedate ones to travel around.
Four loops of nine, the Championship course is made up of the Red (Royal Whittlewood) and Yellow (1905 Course) layouts on the near side of the clubhouse and hotel, and furthest away from the circuit. MG’s Staffordshire ambassador Andy and Phil (editor) took this 18 holes on.
The courses, designed in 1992 are set on land that once formed part of the Royal Whittlewood forest. Despite the modern outlook, you are treated to regular reminders of an ancient past by way of the many old oaks and related species that still indomitably stand proud and form an important part of this landscape.
Elsewhere everything is as you would expect from a recent resort course design, large sized and contoured USGA standard greens and well drained fairways too. No rain for a month when we visited in late April led to some unusual early season extra run on the fairways, which was very welcome.
The signature holes on yellow and red are based around the feature lakes and ponds you come across. The majority of the demands made on your game by the water reside on Red which has two particularly eye-catching short holes over water. The 8th, at 187 yards is the toughest test for sure and takes a good hit to carry the threat with tricky and well placed bunkering around the green to think about too.
Previously to that, the fifth hole presents a similar poser but is more of friendlier flick with a mid to short iron, you should carry the water ok but there is a full green width bunker sitting below the putting surface. From this raised and open tee it’s an excellent test of club selection if you find it on a breezy day.
Yet if you begin your game on the Red course be prepared for a tricky opener, a beautiful dog leg hole with the lake featuring practically all the way along the right hand side. There’s a lovely panoramic view looking over the estate from the raised banking at the rear of the green.
The Yellow is probably a tiny bit less demanding but no lesser in enjoyment, sweeping around the outer edge of the park to begin with before joining the lakeside central area that the Red also occupies. Our favourite hole was the eighth, a gentle dog leg which rises steadily towards the green, so it needs a couple of strong hits around the mature trees that frame the fairway.
Altogether, it’s 18 holes of suitably challenging golf in always attractive surroundings with excellent conditioning coming as standard. Enjoy and prosper through the pressure shots when the water makes its demands and there’s a score to be had. Then there’s always another pair of nines to consider as well.
The Grand Prix (Blue) course is the longest of the four loops and sits closest to the racetrack too. Lots more water to be found here and breaking up the driver friendly long fours and fives are a pair of standout short holes.
The Wedgewood (White) course has a selection of short testing par threes and fours, constructed and maintained to the same high standard as the other three courses. This course is challenging for the seasoned golfer to hone their short games, an ideal nursery course for the novice golfer and as a fun warm up quick round for a travelling society to enjoy before they take on the tougher tests.
19th hole – Whittlebury’s Atrium clubhouse is impossible to miss, one of the largest golfing 19thhole facilities in the UK and Europe. The Atrium Bistro sits inside and looks after every golfer’s needs with plenty of space for visitor diners too. Naturally there is ample room for private society and related group occasions as well. Lots of patio area too for the sunny summer days and an alfresco pint and snack after play.
Pro Shop/Practice – A huge wealth of practice and warm up facilities are also here. An expert team led by Head Pro Richard Cartwright look after the large pro shop and 24 bay two-tiered range with covered bays and power tees and a Trackman powered teaching bay.
Close to the courses are no less than three practice putting greens set around the large short game area which includes three practice bunkers as well.
Play and Stay – The sheer size of Whittlebury Park is matched by its accommodation, dining and conference facilities. Travelling golfers can choose from a range of options for a break, one of the most popular is The Paddock, an accommodation block with its own pub styled eaterie that sits away from the main hotel. Altogether there are 254 rooms onsite with the Whittlebury Spa as an extra attraction. The hotel also has a luxurious spa, leisure club with state-of-the-art gym and 19-metre swimming pool, 3AA Rosette restaurant, plus four additional eateries and bars.
Whittlebury Hall Conference & Training Centre, Hotel & Spa Whittlebury, Near Towcester Northamptonshire, NN12 8QH